Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Noah - Movie Review and Comment on "Christian" art



We are currently under a deluge of faith based films.
I wouldn't call it a religious revival.
More like Hollywood coming to the obvious realization that there are a lot of religious people in America who will pay money to go watch religious based films.
Let me see if I can list all the religious films released or about to be released:

Son of God
Noah
God's Not Dead
Heaven is For Real
Exodus: Gods and Kings
Mary

I'm sure there are more, but these are the ones that came to mind right away.
Out of these I have already seen Son of God and Noah.
The only other one I will probably see is Exodus.

Son of god was a fairly well done film on the life of Jesus. It was marketed heavily to churches and churches responded by buying out entire theaters and doing follow up bible studies and sermon series based on the film. (Our church did this).

I think attempts were made to do the same thing with Noah. But there was not that strong of a response.
And after seeing the film its easy to see why.

I think Darren Aronofsky is a very skilled film maker. I liked his last 2 films: The Wrestler and Black Swan. Both dealt with individuals pushing their bodies to the limits of their capabilities. Motivated by inner identity insecurities.

So, Aronofsky, a professed non-believer goes out and makes this epic big budget film.
And the result - mixed.

There is no question this movie is based on the biblical account. It opens with creation and the genealogical line towards Noah.
But, there are so many odd additions that it is difficult to recommend this film as being solely Christian.

Yeah, Noah believes God.
God speaks to him.
He builds an ark.
The flood comes.
Noah and family survive.

So - the central plot line is there.
It's the additions that might trip some people up.

I saw the movie with Felicia. Our initial thought was that it was depressing and stupid,
But …. on further reflection I have come to conclude that this is an excellent movie.
Probably - the best film based on a Bible story I've ever seen.
And the reason is because there is a complexity and inner turmoil given to Noah that eludes most religious characters in films - often they are very wooden and 2 dimensional.
Without giving too much away, Noah struggles with his call - he's not sure if he is hearing God correctly.
And even when he is given his job - he is a bit confused on why he is doing this.
There is a very moving scene where he feels like a failure. Someone explains to him why he was chosen and why he made the right choice. That conversation in that scene will stay with me for a long long time.
Noah did something for me that no other Bible movie has ever done. As soon as we got home, I cracked open the Bible and read the Noah narrative. The film also caused me to reflect on how hard this must have been for Noah to do.
And that Noah was  a human, with the same insecurities and self doubts that we all struggle with.

I think the criticism coming from certain Christians is coming from people who demand that "Christian" art adhere to very strict parameters. It was interesting to notice the number of people who got upset when the Son of God film moved "off script" and inserted dialogue that is not recorded in scripture.

We have to remember these are not documentaries, these are works of art made by creative people who are ….. CREATING. 
Give them some freedom. (Although - to be honest - Son of God came across more as evangelistic tool than work of art - indeed it was used as such.)

I find most "Christian" art and literature dull and surprisingly uninspiring.
Are we making art or tracts?

So …. Noah was good. Go see it. You might be troubled by the darkness that Aronofsky portrays, or by the incredibly fantastical elements he has inserted.
But, please remember this is art, not a Hebrew commentary on Genesis 6-8.

And maybe it will do to you what it did for me. It reminded me that

God will NEVER AGAIN curse the ground because of man,
even though every inclination of our hearts is evil.
NEVER AGAIN will he destroy all living creatures.


1 comment:

dtmmr.com said...

Good review. Whatever its message was, sort of went beyond me. Instead, I just decided to enjoy the spectacle for what it was worth and I found myself happier with doing so.